South Africa has become the 22nd state to submit its Instrument of Ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to the United Nations in New York.
The treaty was opened for signatures in September 2017 after 122 states voted in favour of its creation in July of the same year. The country’s envoy to the UN deposited the ratification instrument with the United Nation’s Office of Legal Affairs.
South Africa’s Ambassador to the United Nation’s Jerry Matjila had this to say, “Let me take this opportunity to renew South Africa’s commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again by anyone under any circumstances. Nuclear weapons are immoral, unethical and they should not be allowed to exist. I wish to take this opportunity to encourage all member states of the UN and supporters of the Ban Treaty – as it is aptly known – to sign and ratify the treaty as soon as possible, to ensure its early entry into force.”
The Treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons and requires ratification of at least 50 countries before it can come into force. No nuclear-armed nation has expressed support for the treaty while some, including the United States and Russia, have expressed their explicit opposition.
Matjila explains, “We should indeed be concerned about the fact that there are still some 14995 nuclear warheads in existence today with huge implications and risks not only in terms of humanitarian consequences but also in terms of the environmental impact that would befall humanity in the event of a nuclear detonation, be it by design or by accident. Secondly, we need to be apprehensive of the fact that the future of decades-old arms control instruments such as the UNF Treaty as well as the New Start Treaty, which will come to an end in 2021 is precarious and risks re-opening a dangerous path towards renewed nuclear arms race unprecedented since the 70s.”